Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fineman on "Why the Right Hasn't Left"

Howard Fineman is a wise, experienced political commentator who writes for HuffPost.   His latest incisive piece is titled "Why the Right Hasn't Left," meaning why are the Republicans sticking with Trump "despite his rude, bullying personality, administrative incompetence and penchant for hiring former big shots from Goldman Sachs?"

Fineman says that, from their point of view, Trump's regime, "no matter how chaotic or personality-based, is the best chance they have ever had to push their fiercely tribal and anti-government agenda."

Fineman is not talking so much about major, signature legislation or advancing a doctrine.   What Trump's chaos provides is "unprecedented room to maneuver in the executive and judicial branches."    Room and distracting cover to undo all those regulations, climate initiatives, maybe even sneak in changes in voting regulations that favor conservative voters.  As Trump's resident alt-right Svengali, Steve Bannon, puts it:  "Political chaos is the perfect environment in which they can deconstruct the administrative state."

Fineman expects the Republicans to "press ahead without interference," on:

1.  "Nominating young, aggressively conservative judges . .

2.  "Dismantling the structures of business regulation as much as they can . . .

3.  "Removing civil rights-based procedural protections built up over the years to guard against racism, overzealous prosecutions and incarceration.

4.  "Undermining the role of science and environmental concerns in the oversight of energy, manufacturing and transportation industries.

5.  "Clamping down administratively on immigration . . . [and] abolish the idea that immigrants have any kind of moral purchase on the American conscience.

6.  "Restricting, if not strangling, hard-won protections for voting rights . . ."

Fineman then says that Trump is on pace to more than double the number of federal judges nominated by any president in his first year, that he has essentially outsourced the choices for nomination to the conservative Federalist Society.  "The new judges . . . will be called on to accept -- or reject -- the wholesale dismantling of government regulation or to consider legal challenges from the outside," he says.

"This is the unglamorous and largely unseen part of what the hard right sees as a war for the soul of America.   Trump has little interest in the details, and in any case is otherwise occupied with the theatrics of his presidency."

Fineman concludes:  "But people such as Sessions care.  They cared before Trump arrived and will care after he is gone:  about ripping whatever wire they can out of the dashboard.  This is their time, and they are not going to let a little thing like a president bother them."

I think Fineman is right.   Protests and rallies and phone calls may galvanize public rejection of their big legislation like health care or tax reform.   But it's all these myriad, small dismantlings of what has been achieved that are already sailing under the radar.

And Trump has put people in charge -- Sessions at Justice, Price at Health, Mnuchin at Treasury, Tillerson at State, Ross at Commerce, DeVox at Education, and Pruit at EPA -- who are dedicated to decimating their parts of the "administrative state." 

Much of it is happening in the Justice Department.  Trump may think that Sessions' job is only to protect him;   but Sessions knows, and is pressing his advantage, to turn back sharply on the hard won civil rights, criminal justice, and voting rights.    So I'm not surprised that Sessions swallowed his pride and did not resign when the president excoriated and humiliated him in his New York Times interview.   No, Sessions has a lot more work to get done . . . before he's done.

Think how hard it's going to be to reinstate those regulations.   And Pence may not be any better at this level of "war for the soul of America."


No comments:

Post a Comment